March 27, 2019
Stepping Out of God's Way
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." James 1:2-4 (NLT)
He ironed. I watched.
Standing in the door frame of my guest room, I watched my nephew, Jonathan, iron the wrinkles out of his crumpled shirt. He'd stopped by for a visit on his way to a wedding in my hometown, and his clothes were a mess. He ironed and talked. I watched and listened.
Life hasn't been easy for Jonathan. While he has an adoring, godly mother and two amazing siblings, the absence of a father left a lingering ache that's been hard to heal. Their dad's abandonment affected each of the kids differently, but Jonathan, the youngest, has struggled the most.
I've always known God has a special plan for Jonathan. The shaping and molding by God has been fierce, intentional and deliberate.
As Jonathan moved the iron back and forth across the wrinkled fabric, he ironed out much more than a shirt. He ironed out the wrinkles in his heart, pressed out the pain of life without a dad, smoothed out the hurt of abandonment, and steamed out the stubborn creases of years of questions. Why did Dad leave? Why wasn't I worth sticking around for? Why wasn't I worth the effort? Why was I more affected by the abandonment than my siblings?
He pressed and talked.
I listened and prayed.
When we see someone going through a struggle, especially our children, the natural instinct is to jump and try to fix it. But what if that struggle is the very thing God is using to grow them, to strengthen them, to build their character? If that's the case, then our interference may stunt their spiritual growth.
James wrote: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing" (James 1:2-4, emphasis added).
So let it grow. We must let it grow in other people too, not just ourselves. Perhaps we have stepped in where we should have stepped out. We were never meant to fiddle with what only God can fix. Our role is to pray for God to do what only God can do.
Twenty minutes later, Jonathan finished ironing. One shirt. One heart.
"God has done so much for me and in me," he explained. "It has taken a long time, but He is healing me. He is mending my heart. I'm ready to move on now. More than my dad coming home to me, I pray he will come home to Jesus. That's what I want more than anything."
You know, I could have said, "Hey, let me just iron that shirt for you." I could have finished the job in two minutes or less. But this was not about ironing a shirt. This was about pressing out the rumpled creases in a young man's heart. I couldn't do that. Only God could. Jonathan needed to hold the iron of God's love and move it back and forth, back and forth, until the rumpled mess was smoothed. My job was to watch. To listen. To pray.
How about you? Is there someone in your life who has a wrinkled, wounded heart? Have you yanked the healing tool of God's love out of His hand and tried to iron out their problems yourself? Did you ever consider you might be standing in the way of what God is trying to do? I say this only because I have ... many times.
Jonathan wears his mending heart well. That doesn't mean it won't need a touch-up pressing when daily life roughs up the fabric of his heart from time to time. But I have every confidence that God, who began a good work in him, will complete it.
And the shirt? It looked pretty good.
Dear Lord, forgive me for trying to fix other people's problems when they're not mine to fix. Today, I'm committing to watch, to listen, to pray and to love. Help me not to get in the way of what You are doing in someone else's life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Philippians 1:6, "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." (NLT)
Did you know that your words are shaping other people's lives? Every day you can speak life into others' souls or suck the life right out of them. To become a woman who uses her words wisely, see Sharon Jaynes' updated re-release of The Power of a Woman's Words: How the Word You Speaks Shape the Lives of Others! If you pre-order before April 21, you can also receive a FREE e-book download of Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence. Click here to see the entire pre-order package of free gifts!
Click over to Sharon's website for free resources to help you grow spiritually strong.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think about one person you tend to try to fix. What has God shown you through this devotion?
Is there a person you've been trying to fix who you need to hand over to God? Leave their first name in the comments section (or a pseudonym you and God will know) as a declaration that God can do the mending!
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